Minister of Works Desmond Bannister.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
WORKS Minister Desmond Bannister said many homes in Abaco and Grand Bahama contravened the country’s building code before Dorian made landfall.
“I have seen so many homes in Abaco and in Grand Bahama that did not meet requirements of the code either because they were built before the code was amended or because they were built in contravention of the code,” he said in the House of Assembly yesterday during debate on new disaster preparedness legislation.
He said his ministry will appoint additional inspectors to assist architects and engineers in the inspection process.
Some contractors fear enhancing the building code will increase building costs. Noting the code contemplates protecting buildings from winds up to 150mph, Mr Bannister said his ministry will seek to strengthen regulations.
He also revealed that 2,262 buildings have been assessed to date on Grand Bahama, these including residential, commercial, mixed use and public buildings. Of these, ,040 sustained some damage. One thousand and sixty of them received minimal damage with costs of about $2,500; 420 received moderate damage with costs of about $5,000; 350 sustained severe damage worth about $7,500 while 210 are non-salvageable. So far, 460 buildings have been assessed in Abaco, including 444 residential buildings and 16 commercial buildings. Of these, 123 sustained minimal damage, 88 sustained moderate damage, 128 sustained severe damage and 95 are non-salvageable. With still many more buildings yet to be assessed, the total dollar amount of assistance required in relation to buildings already assessed is $12.1 million, Mr Bannister noted.
Earlier, Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin continued the Progressive Liberal Party’s criticism of the government’s response to the hurricane, saying the West End airport in Grand Bahama was not opened immediately to receive supplies and there were delays getting supplies to Abaco by Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) vessels.
She said: “Do you remember that two years ago, the national airline Bahamasair was used to evacuate people in the days before landfall of Hurricane Irma out of Inagua and Ragged Island and Mayaguana and Acklins and Crooked Island in what the PM boasted as the ‘largest evacuation in history,’ sending aircraft after aircraft free of charge to evacuate more than 1,500 persons from harm’s way? It seems that evacuation policy was abandoned in the approach of Dorian despite knowing, assuming they got the briefing we got, that this would be an extraordinary storm with tremendous flooding three times the height of Killarney and that in Abaco there were hundreds living in low-lying shanty towns with substandard housing and people in the cays and those exposed to the shores in East Grand Bahama.”